Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A "Simpleminded" Response to a Complex Theological Problem

Somebody had to have been the first human. After all, there had to have been a first monkey, a first elephant, a first cockroach. Call that person Adam. That first person could have been in fellowship with God, and blew it. Why does evolution change anything? 

108 comments:

Landon Hedrick said...

Victor,

I'm probably showing my ignorance of evolutionary biology here, but isn't it possible that there's a certain vagueness regarding whether or not a creature is a human? On the evolutionary story, I imagine one would be hard-pressed to identify any given creature as the first human. (Perhaps you think God had something to do with selecting a creature to be the first human, and endowed it with some special faculties?)

Anonymous said...

Because evolution inescapably implies that mass animal suffering - predation, extinction, parasitism, diseases, etc. - predated human beings and was going on for millions of years. Mass animal suffering is an evil thing. Therefore there is one evil thing in the physical universe that humanity's Fall did not cause. But the Fall of Man is typically taken to be what introduced both moral evil/corruption and natural evil/corruption into the world, and if natural corruption predated Man, then Man cannot be responsible for it.


Moreover, the very concept of evolution would not make sense without the existence of death and decay. Is God responsible for writing death and decay into the very fabric of 13.7 billion years of physical reality? Certainly no Good God would do that....so whence comes death and decay?

Matt said...

I'm really uninformed on the subject so I do not know how this actually works, but according to Jerry Coyne the population of our ancestors was never as low as two people. The smallest it got was around 10,000 people.

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/#comment-130036
"Unfortunately, the scientific evidence shows that Adam and Eve could not have existed, at least in the way they’re portrayed in the Bible. Genetic data show no evidence of any human bottleneck as small as two people: there are simply too many different kinds of genes around for that to be true. There may have been a couple of “bottlenecks” (reduced population sizes) in the history of our species, but the smallest one not involving recent colonization is a bottleneck of roughly 10,000-15,000 individuals that occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That’s as small a population as our ancestors had, and—note—it’s not two individuals."

Victor Reppert said...

Matt: Hold it.That doesn't sound logically possible. At some point in the past, the total population of humans was zero. So, it jumps from 0 to 10,000 in a nanosecond, and skips 2?

A: Of course, you'd have to explain animal suffering without the fall, but I wouldn't have relied on the Fall to explain that anyway, nor would it. If it's wrong for God to permit animal suffering without man having sinned, then then it would be wrong for God to punish the animal world for what man did.

L: There could be a kind of self-consciousness that would either exist or not exist, (a full-blast first person perspective) and someone would have to be the first one to have that. If you denied that (consciousness is a matter of behavior, and you can have more or less of that), then your position depends on something more complex and controversial than evolution.

BenYachov said...

There is no logical, biblical or philosophical reason why Adam's offspring couldn't mate with their unsouled hominids contemporaries.

It seems to have some basis in the Jewish understanding of Adam & Eve.

http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/48931772.html

Genesis doesn't require a genetic two person bottleneck.

Only that the First Man have a soul and those who come after him get it from him.

As for animal suffering Coyne lives in fundie land.

Augustine believed Animals ate each other before the fall & died. The fall only effected Man.

Coyne is a putz who actually believes ANSWERS IN GENESIS is the ancient norm for historical Christianity.

The man is a boob.

BTW Animal suffering is not practically or morally equivocal to human suffering or the suffering of any being with a spiritual soul.

That excludes animals.

Victor Reppert said...

I'd add that Lewis, at least, didn't think we needed a literal two-person fall. But, if you thought you needed one, it sure looks to me as if you have a definite criterion for personhood, then we'd have to say the race grew in population arithmetically. How else could it grow?

ABS said...

"Hold it.That doesn't sound logically possible. At some point in the past, the total population of humans was zero. So, it jumps from 0 to 10,000 in a nanosecond, and skips 2?"

Coyne means that the breeding population was never as low as 2 people. But of course this doesn't mean that there was never any "first human", nor even that all living humans don't share a particular ancestor or pair of ancestors. The first theological (so to speak) human could well have emerged in a population of protohumans.

If you define a first human as the first being to have all of features X at once, you're inevitably going to get a first human somewhere in history even given evolution.

ABS said...

"Coyne means that the breeding population was never as low as 2 people."

I will add, he means that, according to current genetic evidence, the breeding population of humans hasn't experienced that kind of bottleneck for quite some time, possibly before a time when we could (wait for it) say humans really existed.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, that helps, since Coyne is a capable evolutionary biologist, even though I don't trust him outside that field. (Actually, ditto for Dawkins.)

ABS said...

"(Actually, ditto for Dawkins.)"

Why would you trust Dawkins? He hasn't been active in his field for ...years? Decades? His main claim to fame has been popular science writing. Like Sagan without the research.

Would you let a doctor operate on you who was active in surgery 20-30 years ago and since then had been writing a popular book series about Doctor Asskicker, Combat Medic?

Hiero5ant said...

You're telling me that one day I have three uncles who aren't bald and then in a nanosecond it jumps from zero to the three I have right now? That doesn't seem logically possible!

Victor Reppert said...

Wouldn't exactly trust him, except that I think when he makes cases for evolvability I think there's a comparative superiority to when he's talking about things that are really philosophical issues and he is out to lunch.

Papalinton said...

Complex Theological Problem

Now there's an oxymoron. As good if not better than 'military intelligence'.

kbrowne said...

C.S.Lewis certainly did believe in a literal fall but he did not think it was necessarily a fall of only two people.

It has been fun following this dispute on various blogs but I can’t help wondering why Christians don’t adopt Lewis’ theory. If you suppose that most biological humans at the time of the fall did not have human souls and, according to Feser, could not even talk, you have to think that the descendants of Adam and Eve had children with creatures who were little more than chimpanzees. Surely this idea must bother you. Wouldn’t you prefer to think that the entire population were fully human, with each fallen person passing the condition on to his or her descendants? Being fallen would spread quite quickly through the population.

The only problem with Lewis’ view that I can see is that it does not explain what happened to the unfallen humans. After all they were immortal so they should still be around. However, it is easy to think of answers to that. Maybe they all eventually fell. Maybe being immortal did not mean not dying at all but rather that they could die whenever they wanted. That, I think, was Lewis’ view.

Or maybe the fallen humans killed the unfallen. I suppose being immortal does not mean completely indestructible. They were free from all diseases, even the disease of ageing (yes I do think of it as a disease), but they could be killed. Even an unfallen human could hardly live without a head, for instance.

Impeccably Rational said...

I'm pretty skeptical about this supposed genetic evidence for a minimum of 10,000 breeding population. Where can I find the scientific articles? Coyne doesn't cite them. I've got a feeling it might be another case of the cart pulling the horse.

___________________________ said...

Given that an author Biologos makes the same claim: http://biologos.org/blog/does-genetics-point-to-a-single-primal-couple I don't think that Coyne's making anything up. In fact, the author there explains what he is talking about.

Even further though, Reppert's solution is kind of ridiculous. He's making "man" an ontological division in a problem that won't really allow that. I mean, he may as well be talking about the first moment when heap of sand loses enough grains to no longer be a heap. The problem being that there is no moment like that, and even making the division may be practically impossible.

BenYachov said...

This is stupid.

There was a two person fall, that is absolutely necessary for orthodoxy & their children mated with other hominids who didn't have souls but produced children who did.

It's really not hard.

Anonymous said...

http://chev.as/2011/08/28/extensive-genetic-diversity-is-insufficient-for-disproving-an-historical-adam-and-eve/

Looks like the recently developed field of epigenetics would undermine a lot of the evidence put forward for a 10,000 breeding pop.

Also, Reppert's solution is strengthened is 'person' cannot be treated as a vague predicate, as many philosophers argue.

B. Prokop said...

Let me start by saying that I find this entire discussion both ridiculous and embarrassing. We are feeding Red Meat to the likes of Papalinton and other skeptics who enjoy making adolescent jibes at "those foolish Christians and their complex theological problems".

That said, allow me to pile another pound of sausage onto the table.

Keep in mind that the story of the Fall is in the Old Testament. This means we must interpret it in the context of Hebrew understanding of sin. Throughout the OT, Israel's sin is primarily seen as a corporate act. The prophets continually decry the falling away of "my people", or of "Judah", or some other expression to indicate the mass populous. It is no small step from this to accept the possibility, at least, that the primordial sin could be attributed to Early Man en masse.

Even the names of the characters in the story are clues to their symbolic and allegorical nature. "Adam" basically translates as "Man", and "Eve" as "Mother". The tempter is an animal, for Heaven's sake! The literary conventions in this account make it screamingly obvious to anyone with the faintest knowledge of literary convention that this is NOT an account of literal, historical events, but rather a carefully constructed mythical narrative which makes a hugely factual point (several of them, actually).

(I must digress at this point to
insist that I in no way regard the term "mythical" as derogatory. In fact I have consistently maintained that myth is in many, many ways often "truer" than purely factual narratives.)

Christianity has no theological stake in the details of the origin of Mankind and its earliest history. None. What matters is the Fall and our subsequent Redemption. These are both demonstrable facts that one can see and prove with one's own two eyes. It actually takes a willful blindness on the part of the observer to deny the truth of either one. No anthropological research or theorizing necessary.

Anonymous said...

Also, as someone on the Coyne blog pointed out, there is a very easy way out for someone wishing to defend an original human pair: the nephilim of Gen 6:1-4. That is where all the excess genetic information came from, bumping up a population of a few thousand genetically similar human beings into a massively diverse one in only a few generations.

One Brow said...

There was no first human, no first monkey, nor first elepahnt, no first cockroach. This talkorigins post discusses why.

Now, I agree evolution has nothing to say about God granting a rational soul to one man from a population (although that doesn't really fit with archeology).

One Brow said...

ABS said...
If you define a first human as the first being to have all of features X at once, you're inevitably going to get a first human somewhere in history even given evolution.

Except, features X can be 10% present, or 50% present, or 90% present. There is no divide, just a continuum.

Anonymous said...

"There was no first human"

False, if 'human' isn't a vague term. And Reppert's solution is best interpreted as the suggestion that it isn't.

One Brow said...

Anonymous said...
Looks like the recently developed field of epigenetics would undermine a lot of the evidence put forward for a 10,000 breeding pop.

No, it doesn't. Your link was analysis-free wishful thinking. Epigentics is accounted for in the current estimates.

BenYachov said...

Humans are defined metaphysically & philosophically not biologically and genetically.

This whole discussion is a walking talking category mistake.

TALKORIGINS has excellent material for refuting YEC's anti-Evolution nonsense but they are philosophical and theological incompetents.

Unless you are already an Atheist, Adam existed get over it. Even then as I recall Jerry Fodor and others have speculated human intellective power could have emerged suddenly. Sort of like a happy accident.

So this is all bullshit.

Anonymous said...

It's a newly developed field. How can they be sure they have accounted for everything it can affect? How can they know?

But if epigenetics turns out to be no help, angelic DNA looks like the way to go.

Anonymous said...

Solo brow agrees with you, Ben:

"Now, I agree evolution has nothing to say about God granting a rational soul to one man from a population (although that doesn't really fit with archeology)."

And if possession of a certain soul-type is necessary to be human, then there will have been a first human (or humans if the souls are granted simultaneously).

But the discussion moved on to the original pair, etc.

BenYachov said...

>It is no small step from this to accept the possibility, at least, that the primordial sin could be attributed to Early Man en masse.

Accept it can't be reconciled with the council of Trent.

For Catholics like us that is a problem.

Plus Otcum's razor, why do you need a mass of men when one will do?

The human soul comes from God creating it. It is heresy of the first rank to say the soul can evolve. Your soul and mine where created by God at our conception.

So God created 10,000 souls for 10,000 creatures? Victor is right when you think metaphysically.

You are treating the soul as a biological material thing.

That is wrong.

Sorry Bob think about it.

God bless.

BenYachov said...

>"Now, I agree evolution has nothing to say about God granting a rational soul to one man from a population (although that doesn't really fit with archeology)."

One Brow believes a single pair bottleneck is not seemingly possible naturally the last I spoke to him of it.

Til I am offered better I will tentatively stick with him on that.

But he ironically gets it.

Which is why all the biological discussion is moot.

toddes said...

B. Prokop,

Then how do you understand Romans 5:12?

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned..."

BenYachov said...

BTW Angels are Substantive Forms & thus are not material beings. Thus they don't have DNA.

OTOH Angels could likely possess the bodies of Hominids who had no souls.

toddes said...

BenYahov,

So a 'human' is one who has been ensouled and so created in the image of God.

If then we have humans who are created in the image of God mating with hominids who are not created in the image of God, are they not in some fashion engaging in a form of beastility since the hominids would be animals and not human?

I'm not trying to be impertinent but am trying to understand your statement that "There is no logical, biblical or philosophical reason why Adam's offspring couldn't mate with their unsouled hominids contemporaries."

BenYachov said...

>are they not in some fashion engaging in a form of beastility since the hominids would be animals and not human?

Maybe, if so then well it clearly all took place after the fall.

OTOH in the creationist scenario & or two person bottleneck the human race is brought about by incest.

OTOH there may be a moral difference between mating with a creature who is genetically like you even if metaphysically unlike you & a humanoid vs humping a goat or a Waterbufflo.

The Rabbis condemned homosexuality, pedophilia and bestiality because it was infertile sex that wasted human seed. Mating with wild men who had no souls might be different.

B. Prokop said...

Toddes,

I have no problem whatsoever with that passage in Paul. He frequently uses allegory and analogy in his letters (explicitly so in Galatians, actually labeling it "allegory"). When Paul talks of the armor of God, do you think he means it literally? Should we rush out to the armor shop to get suited up? When he refers to us as God's farm, should we therefore sprinkle fertilizer on our heads? I could continue, but the point is made. The language of Paul is quite often symbolic and/or illustrative. There is no requirement to in every case naively take it in a wooden literal sense.

Now when Paul wants us to sit up and pay attention to his words as "The Gospel Truth", he usually gives us fair warning. A good example of this is in First Corinthians, when he insists for one long chapter that Christ's Resurrection is a literal Historical Fact in the plainest sense. Another is when he relates the account of the Last Supper and the First Eucharist, emphasizing that the bread and wine were literally transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. No symbolism there.

So Paul in Romans 5:12 was likely just writing in the idiom of the Hebrew faith. Heck, even I refer to the "sin of Adam", and I am a complete agnostic on the issue of his actual existence. Or I'll gladly speak of the travails of Job or the intransigence of Jonah, while maintaining absolutely zero belief in the historical reality of either person.

BenYachov said...

When I get home tonight I will have to give Bob's view a good critiquing.

Cheers

B. Prokop said...

If you do that, Ben, don't just stop at Paul. Christ Himself on multiple occasions speaks of Jonah, Noah, and Job - all fictional persons.

Just because you can find a reference in the New Testament to person mentioned in the Old Testament, by itself that does not mean the OT person is an historical figure. It could just as easily mean that the NT speaker/writer was merely using the idiom of the time.

Remember, the Apostle Jude quotes at some length from the non-canonical Book of Enoch. That does not make the Book of Enoch scripture. The same letter quotes from "The Assumption of Moses", a contemporary Jewish fictional work. Does that mean that "The Assumption of Moses" should be scripture as well? Certainly not!

toddes said...

B. Prokop,

So where does the analogy end? Paul later in the same chapter states "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous."(19)

Are we to understand both references of "the one man" to be analogies? If we understand the one usage to be an analogy, what prevents us from understanding the other as the being one as well? Are we to start teaching that there was not one Christ who suffered and died on the Cross but a group Christ?

I agree with you that the language Paul (and Christ for that matter) used was often figurative and illustrative but there doesn't appear to be any markers in this passage to understand it as such.

From this it seems that we should affirm Adam not as a group or as nothing more than a mythical archetype but as a living breathing man.

BenYachov said...

>Remember, the Apostle Jude quotes at some length from the non-canonical Book of Enoch. That does not make the Book of Enoch scripture.

What does that matter to us Bob? Neither of us may believe in Sola Scriptura?

BenYachov said...

>If you do that, Ben, don't just stop at Paul. Christ Himself on multiple occasions speaks of Jonah, Noah, and Job - all fictional persons.

Unless you have a scientific reason to doubt their literal existence the default position via the standards of Augustine are they existed.

BenYachov said...

If I may rephrase. The default is to take their existence literally.

Crude said...

Oh, this one again. Fun.

There was no first human, no first monkey, nor first elepahnt, no first cockroach. This talkorigins post discusses why.

No, it doesn't. That talkorigins post is largely dealing with the question of interfertility of species, and how to define a new species in a biological sense. And how to define a species that way is A) Largely irrelevant to the question at hand, and B) not settled even for mundane situations.

Except, features X can be 10% present, or 50% present, or 90% present. There is no divide, just a continuum.

As an anon said: That only works if you take 'human' as a vague term. If a human is defined as the first being in possession of all traits X, there was a first human. Even if you insist the traits are on a continuum, one of the qualifying traits can be "Y is 50% present".

Continuums have their own divides. If a trait is 50% present, it's not 60% or 40% present.

Crude said...

Bob,

Let me start by saying that I find this entire discussion both ridiculous and embarrassing. We are feeding Red Meat to the likes of Papalinton and other skeptics who enjoy making adolescent jibes at "those foolish Christians and their complex theological problems".

I could really care less what the likes of Papalinton think, and I think this modern Christian habit of being overly concerned with what die-hard anti-theistic unbelievers think of us is to our collective detriment. I respect the idea of minding appearances within reason, but there comes a point where it becomes ridiculous.

For the record, Papalinton has been a regular visitor at Biologos - a place which strives to do away with this 'problem' almost entirely, and place itself in tight accord with modern science. Do you think he shows up there to praise them? Think again.

As for your greater comments - I don't think one needs to regard Adam as a 'fictional person', nor do I think any evidence we have goes in any direction towards establishing Adam was fictional. It's not a binary question, where either the YEC interpretation of the Fall is legitimate, or it never happened at all. The catechism makes reference to Genesis as, I think, using poetic language to describe a real primordial event. I may not be privy to all the details of that event, but there's no need for anyone to sacrifice their belief in that event - and in the first couple, as understood and explained by others. (Adam and Eve appearing in a greater interbreeding population.)

That said, I actually agree with some of your points about interpreting NT language. But on the subject of Adam and Eve, there's not really any necessity to sacrifice the belief in them as real persons, properly understood. And the idea that doing so will take away some 'red meat' is just a bad move in too many ways.

Crude said...

Actually, let me amend something.

Biologos doesn't merely strive to put Christianity "in accord with modern science". That would be trivial. It strives to put Christianity in accord with modern *philosophy and feeling* as well, which includes giving up a tremendous amount of extra-scientific ground almost entirely for the sake of appeasement.

It doesn't work. It will never work. And even if it did, I'd be against it. Picking my beliefs on the basis of whether or not a Cult of Gnu member will approve isn't a priority for me.

BenYachov said...

I'm with Crude on this one.

I would add if anything the dogmatic fundamentalist liberal denial of a real Adam & Eve & Original Sin serves as a stumbling block for Evangelical Protestants to accept Evolution.

If they can accept Old Earth Creationism then it take little for them to accept Theistic Evolution with Adam.

Papalinton said...

"There was a two person fall, that is absolutely necessary for orthodoxy & their children mated with other hominids who didn't have souls but produced children who did.

It's really not hard."

Nothing is hard to imagine in a fairy story.

Anonymous said...

Any more pearls of wisdom, Papa?

Papalinton said...

1. "There was a two person fall, that is absolutely necessary for orthodoxy & their children mated with other hominids who didn't have souls but produced children who did.
It's really not hard."

2. "The tempter is an animal, for Heaven's sake! The literary conventions in this account make it screamingly obvious to anyone with the faintest knowledge of literary convention that this is NOT an account of literal, historical events, but rather a carefully constructed mythical narrative ...."

3. "I'd add that Lewis, at least, didn't think we needed a literal two-person fall. But, if you thought you needed one, it sure looks to me as if you have a definite criterion for personhood, ...."

Two thousand years and they still can't get the fable right. And this is one of the foundation stones for the existence of christian theism and how sin came into the world. Of course god in its omniscience knew and planned all this. It is all part of god's plan.

As Steven Spielberg would say, "Cut! Cut! it's a disaster."

Papalinton said...

"What matters is the Fall and our subsequent Redemption. These are both demonstrable facts that one can see and prove with one's own two eyes. It actually takes a willful blindness on the part of the observer to deny the truth of either one. "

Five billion people in the world, and me, 'willfully blind' to the fall. Pull the other leg.

Crude said...

Two thousand years and they still can't get the fable right. And this is one of the foundation stones for the existence of christian theism and how sin came into the world.

Why, it's almost as if that there are a variety of ways one could understand the Fall! How terribly dogmatic of Christians! ;)

Of course, all of the explanations given so far agree on that sin did in fact come into the world, and that there was a fall. That is the "foundation stone", not the particular interpretations.

It's rather like evolutionary theory in general not standing or falling on all diversity being the result of infinitesimal, gradual change. That can be false - indeed, the modern view is that this IS false, despite Darwin's original line in the sand - and evolutionary theory can still be true. Among other mistaken views of the time.

Ahh, but the Cult of Gnu is not interested in truth or reason. Merely utility.

Papalinton said...

Crude
"But on the subject of Adam and Eve, there's not really any necessity to sacrifice the belief in them as real persons, properly understood. "

Define 'properly understood', as distinct from 'understood'. Another theological literary device and creative weaselwording, usually known as 'equivocation' in common parlance.

Papalinton said...

"I'm with Crude on this one."

Oh oh! I feel a schism coming on. A club of two. The usual historical practice in christian theism, is to go off a create a splinter group of 'reallytrue believers' with the only true interpretation of the bible.

Crude said...

Define 'properly understood', as distinct from 'understood'. Another theological literary device and creative weaselwording

Yeah, Papalinton. "Properly understood" is a term only in use among theologians. You know a lot about fairy tales - clearly, you live in one. ;)

Oh oh! I feel a schism coming on. A club of two.

Club of two? Did you not read what I said? "Of course, all of the explanations given so far agree on that sin did in fact come into the world, and that there was a fall. That is the "foundation stone", not the particular interpretations."

In other words, my club is quite vaster than that - because a mere difference in particular interpretation is not enough to cause a schism, so long as the essential points are affirmed. And there's quite a lot of agreement on those points - with more to come.

But I understand where you're coming from, Papalinton. This scares the hell out of you. Christians are supposed to *fight* evolution - not baptize it. Why, if they happily reconcile evolution with their beliefs... that means that it's no longer an atheist weapon.

We're coming to take your toys away, Papalinton. Evolution, biology, physics... all ours. You'll be left with, oh... evolutionary psychology. You can keep that one. We'll allow that much. ;)

Papalinton said...

How insightful a statement from Jerry Coyne:

"A worldview that relies on revelation, dogma, and acceptance of those things that you want to believe must necessarily be in complete conflict with a worldview that relies on evidence, doubt, empiricism, and acceptance of only those things for which there’s evidence, whether or not you want those things to be true.  What Scripture tells us is true (I’m not referring here to moral prescriptions) is almost wholly in conflict with what reason and science tells us is true."

And unfortunately, much of contemporary christian apologetics is singularly about shoehorning its fable into the science frame of reality as equitable if not equal partners, trying desperately to convince ever increasingly skeptical educated people that 'faith' is synonymous with 'fact', that 'belief' is equivalent to 'evidence', that 'theology' is as rigorous as 'cosmology'.

Crude said...

How insightful a statement from Jerry Coyne:

Please. Coyne is hardly ever insightful, and he's flat out wrong in that very quote - as this very thread has demonstrated.

And unfortunately, much of contemporary christian apologetics is singularly about shoehorning its fable into the science frame of reality as equitable if not equal partners,

And there you go again: Your statement conflicts with Coyne's own quote. If Coyne is right, then it shouldn't be possible for these beliefs to be compatible with the scientific data - such as it is. And yet they are compatible with reason and science alike.

You're fighting a losing battle, Papalinton - evolution is entirely compatible with theism generally and Christianity specifically, even on these fundamental question. I'd say you should retreat to some other area of science to make your stand but... there really aren't any available.

But hey, being skeptical and doubtful of atheism shouldn't be a problem for you, right? Right. ;)

BenYachov said...

@Paps

Even Bob said on the other thread my opinion is possible and that he has no problem with it.

He just for some reason prefers his view "Adam" represents a group of humans instead of a single man. Granted some speculative Theologians have said as much anticipating science favoring a biological polygenism. So it's not completely out of the pale.

I think it is very erroneous & I would like to share with him why I think that. Bob has no trouble correcting me when he thinks I am to vicious to other posters around here. I can't say he is wrong to do that. I see no reason why I shouldn't correct him theologically if I think it warranted. I certainly don't have to correct his behavior since he is way ahead of me in that area.

But in the end I am not his bishop or his father confessor & I trust if the Church makes a more explicit & specific teaching on this matter he would submit to Her.

It's a family matter Paps. You are not involved nor invited. It's quite frankly none of your business.

Good day.

BenYachov said...

QUOTE"Paplinton, I've tried. I gave you every benefit of the doubt. I tried to emphasize the occasional moments of sanity in your postings, and even defended you against some of the harsher comments directed against you on this site. But you have made zero attempt to respond in kind, or to mend your ways."END QUOTE

The above is what Bob said to Paps on the other thread.

Nuff said. Bye Paps.

Edward T. Babinski said...

IS THIS LEWIS'S & VIC'S VIEW?

1) a group of early hominids became "human" all together

2) the same group all "fell" in some way together

THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS

a) How do you define "human" as opposed to whatever hominid category in which these species and their nearest cousins lay? Trying to define "human" biologically is quite difficult once you consider the thought experiment of changing just one base pair in the chimpanzee genome at a time until you get to "human." At what point mutation does the chimp become a "human being?" It's a fuzzy question.

b) This early group of the first humans couldn't inter-breed with their nearest soulless hominid cousins? If they did, what would that make their offspring?

c) What great stand-out "sin" or "sinning" could this first group of "humans" commit when the world was already filled with death and natural sexual longing and natural self-interest? Conversely, what about the natural forgiveness that chimps and other primates have been shown exhibiting to one another, extending a hand, hugging, forgiving, and the natural empathy that chimps can show for one another? Or the natural care that even dinosaurs were believed to exhibit toward their offspring? In other words the world already had both self-interest and empathy before the first "humans" arose. The world already had "sin" and "forgiveness." So what would have been extraordinarily "new" about this first group of "humans?" One can only guess.

So, compared with modern primatological studies and evolutionary genetics, theology in comparison seems to be a mere guessing game with it comes to "original sin."

Crude said...

It's a fuzzy question.

Fuzzy? Difficult, perhaps, and not given to an exacting definition. But that's not what's being pursued here. Nor would the necessary change necessarily be genetic.

As for the thought experiment, it's a non-seq - the changes need not be that gradual.

This early group of the first humans couldn't inter-breed with their nearest soulless hominid cousins? If they did, what would that make their offspring?

"Who said they couldn't?" and " ensouled humans", respectively.

What great stand-out "sin" or "sinning" could this first group of "humans" commit when the world was already filled with death and natural sexual longing and natural self-interest?

Differences in kind - ensoulment and human moral capacity makes these things an entirely different matter, as would a direct relationship with God.

Re: the chimps, "natural forgiveness" exists in the mind of the observer in those cases. Rather depends on if primates are ensouled, eh? As far as dinosaurs go, I think once you're letting your imagination run that far, you're actually outstripping the wilder Christians.

So, compared with modern primatological studies and evolutionary genetics, theology in comparison seems to be a mere guessing game with it comes to "original sin."

You mean theology and philosophy are different than science? Science is vastly more limited than philosophy and theology?

Not exactly a big worry, that. Even if popular scientific evidence pointed to a young earth scenario, we'd still have quite a lot of questions. But it does serve to illustrate that evolution doesn't refute the fall generally, or even Adam and Eve particularly.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

You are charmingly quick to call down the wrath of Holy Mother Church on anyone you may disagree with, but before you start hinting at charges of heresy against me (at least as regards the historicity of Adam), you'd better be careful, because you might not know where to stop.

In his wonderful book "In the Beginning... A Catholic Understanding of Creation and the Fall" (1986) the then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, explains at some length and great detail how the Genesis account of Adam and Eve does not refer to primordial events at all, but is rather a commentary on the situation Israel found itself in around the time of the Babylonian Captivity!!! (see especially pages 64-71) As to original sin, the Pope himself goes further than I would have ever dreamed of, and dates the Fall not at the beginning of time, but rather writes that it is a recurring event coincident with the birth of each individual human being. (pages 71-74)

So you will see that my personal views (and that's all they are: views, not beliefs) are as orthodox as one can get - even the Pope agrees with me. There likely was no historical Adam, and there is zero theological necessity for one.

BenYachov said...

>How do you define "human" as opposed to whatever hominid category in which these species and their nearest cousins lay?

Any animal with a Rational Soul in addition to a Sensitive Soul and a Vegetative soul.

Animals proper have only the former two not the later first.

Also this is a hylemorphic view of the soul not a Cartesian one you learned from the Fundies. Cartesian dualism is shit.

(Ed's profile doesn't fill me with confidence. An Ex-fundamentalist turned Atheist. A whole false view of Christianity to un-teach before you can even begin teaching ancient Christianity and Philosophy.)

>This early group of the first humans couldn't inter-breed with their nearest soulless hominid cousins?

Genetically they would be near identical. Only metaphysically would they be different.

>If they did, what would that make their offspring

Human since there is no reason why they wouldn't have souls from their human parent. Over time the souled humans would subsume the non-souled population.

Why is that hard?

>chimps and other primates have been shown exhibiting to one another, extending a hand, hugging, forgiving, and the natural empathy that chimps can show for one another?

The anthropomorphic fallacy - the attribution of human thoughts and emotions to animals or inanimate objects.

For example if two animals of the same gender happen to lick each other genitals(most likely a form of grooming behavior) some genius says "Ah! Proof gayness exists among animals"!

Also see the "Clever Hans effect".

You should read the essay by Atheist philosopher Thomas Negal "What's it like to be a Bat?".

Animals subjective experience is pretty much beyond the scope of science.

Animals aren't just different from us in intelligence by degree but in kind. This is not only an opinion held by Thomists but Atheist Philosophers like Dave Stove believed the same thing.

Crude said...

Bob,

As to original sin, the Pope himself goes further than I would have ever dreamed of, and dates the Fall not at the beginning of time, but rather writes that it is a recurring event coincident with the birth of each individual human being.

Ben is not advocating that the Fall took place at "the beginning of time" - far from it.

Likewise, I believe you are misrepresenting Ratzinger on this front. He says on the subject of Adam and Eve, "The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God . . . does not in fact explain how human persons come to be but rather what they are." The problem is that this doesn't mean that Ratzinger is rejecting that the Fall was a real primordial event - he's pointing out that that particular line is not the stuff of utter literal history. But... Ben would agree. So would I.

So when you say...

So you will see that my personal views (and that's all they are: views, not beliefs) are as orthodox as one can get - even the Pope agrees with me. There likely was no historical Adam, and there is zero theological necessity for one.

...Sorry, the indications are this is flat out wrong. You're incorrect about what then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, you're incorrect about there "likely being no historical Adam" in the relevant sense, and you're incorrect about the theological necessity - at least with regards to Catholic teaching.

By all means, provide quotes of Ratzinger saying that there was no Adam and no historical Fall. I think you're going to find that Ratzinger was taking a very different view than what you're suggesting.

BenYachov said...

Hold your horses Bob!

>You are charmingly quick to call down the wrath of Holy Mother Church on anyone you may disagree with,

I didn't do that I merely said I would make my case & if the Church ever ruled on it in the future I trust you would submit to it as would I.

>but before you start hinting at charges of heresy against me (at least as regards the historicity of Adam), you'd better be careful, because you might not know where to stop.

You haven't heard my case yet so how can you judge?

>In his wonderful book "In the Beginning... A Catholic Understanding of Creation and the Fall" (1986) the then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, explains at some length and great detail how the Genesis account of Adam and Eve does not refer to primordial events at all, but is rather a commentary on the situation Israel found itself in around the time of the Babylonian Captivity!!! (see especially pages 64-71)

I own that book and read it in the past & it is safe to say you have misread it.

But my wife is sick & I have to watch the kids(Autistic kids don't sleep) so I will have to hold off a night on answering you.

Cheers.

vocab malone/jm rieser said...

I respectfully suggest that it is not that simple:
http://backpack.podbean.com/2011/10/03/what-about-adam-eve-100211

We did a show on this about the theological ramifications.

vm

Crude said...

Bob,

Yeah, to back up Ben on this one - he didn't "call down the wrath" of anything on you. In fact, Ben's been pretty damn civil in this conversation. I'd like to think I've been too with you.

Ben,

Hope all's well with you, nice to see someone with proper priorities.

BenYachov said...

Briefly,

I just fished my copy out of the mess that is my bedroom.

I've been reading it while my middle child reminds me that Autistic kids can't sleep or make their own serotonin.

I think Bob is reading Ratzinger/the Holy Father from his own personal perspective.

Which is fine but I can't find anything in that book I would disagree with or that contradicts anything I have claimed.

Especially on pages 64-71 which I have read twice now while I guard my kid.

Wait she is waking up again....darn it!

BenYachov said...

BTW for the record.

I think Bob is a cool guy who is on the side of the angels.

BenYachov said...

Additional:

There is a moral difference between simple error verses heresy.

I think Bob is in error I do not accuse him of heresy.

Crude said...

Ben,

I'll take a hipshot at what Bob may be thinking here. I think he connects "historical Adam" with a YEC view, and may suspect that's your view. Bob can correct me if I'm wrong - oh, and he will if I am, no question - but the bit about "beginning of time" was suggestive.

BenYachov said...

@Crude

Here is Bob's views

To quote brother Bob

"But on the whole, this is one of those matters which I have "no dog in the fight". As I wrote earlier, it really doesn't affect what I believe. If tomorrow I learned that the majority of the OT was pure allegory with no historical basis whatsoever, that would be fine by me. But on the other hand, were I to learn that it was overwhelmingly literally true, that also wouldn't cause me to lose any sleep. None. It's really a giant non-issue to me."END QUOTE

and "I see no theological necessity for a literal first couple. The Fall of Man and his subsequent Redemption is not dependent on such. The first sin could easily have been (and probably was) a collective act."

Thus the point of disagrement is the theological necessity for a literal first couple vs a fall of a large collective group of people.

PS I knew playing that Jane Austin movie would put my little one to sleep.

Now I am going to watch some of it before turning in myself.

B. Prokop said...

Crude is party correct. Insisting on a literal Adam puts one perilously close to the YECs, a position I have no sympathy for. I regard them as among Christianity's most dangerous enemies (along with the so-called "religious right" in the US).

I guess I was a bit harsh in my opening line last night (I had just gotten home after a two-hour drive in bucketing rain - enough to put anyone on edge), but Ben, you really are too quick to fall back on the "believe this 'cause the Church says so" line of argument, or at least it appears so on this website. I don't care for that line of reasoning when in mixed company. The atheists on this site will give such arguments the same or even less attention than if you quoted scripture at them. It carries no weight outside The Family.

And I don't believe I misinterpreted Cardinal Ratzinger's words. His line of explanation in "In the Beginning" is clearly skewed toward a hyper non-literalist interpretation of the creation accounts. It would be difficult to tease any real support for a historical first couple out of that book.

But in the end (pun intended) I honestly have no strong beliefs on this subject either way. I am willing to be convinced I am wrong, but your arguments had better be anthropological and based on hard, physical evidence (either bones or DNA), because I fail utterly to see any pressing theological need for Adam's historicity. (I am obviously getting along fine without belief in such.)

We Catholics have a Huge Advantage over Protestants when it comes to rejecting Biblical Literalism, because our Bible contains all 73 books of the canon, rather than a selected 66. And among those 7 Deuterocanonical books are Judith and Tobit, which every single Biblical scholar in existence agrees are blatantly and wildly unhistorical, containing easily demonstrable historical inaccuracies. So with that principle established, it is an easy step towards regarding other parts of the Old Testament as allegory or pure fiction, such as Job, Jonah, Daniel, and large swaths of the Pentateuch.

BenYachov said...

>but your arguments had better be anthropological and based on hard, physical evidence (either bones or DNA),

Category mistake the argument is based on the teaching authority of the Church. If you can come up with physical evidence that contradicts the claims of a literal Adam then the interpretation must be changed.

For example science makes it unlikely the Earth & the Universe is young or was created in a literal 144 hour period. Plus Genesis 2:4 can literally be interpreted to mean the whole of reality was created all at once.

Thus there is reason to reject let us say St Baisel's view on a literal six day creation. But Augustine's looking pretty good.

That is in fact how this works you must disprove Adam.

But based on Tradition and the Authority of the Church and even infallible statements made by the Church a real Adam is as ingrained as a belief in the Trinity.

>Insisting on a literal Adam puts one perilously close to the YECs.

That doesn't in anyway logically follow. Dawkins has called Francis Collins a "Creationist" for believing in a creator God. Mere Theism puts us perilously close to the YEC's.

Then there is the literal resurrection and Virgin Birth and a literal Jesus for the Jesus Myther fundie Atheists.

More Later.

Cheers.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
No, it doesn't. That talkorigins post is largely dealing with the question of interfertility of species, and how to define a new species in a biological sense.

Actually, it was about the fuzziness of the concept of species in general, and why there was no such thing as an abrupt species transition, aka a "first elephant".

And how to define a species that way is A) Largely irrelevant to the question at hand,

As long as you're not discussing bilogy, I agree it is irrelevant.

and B) not settled even for mundane situations.

Yes, that's the point.

Even if you insist the traits are on a continuum, one of the qualifying traits can be "Y is 50% present".

Arbitrary divisions with little objective, underlying basis are a favorite human trick.

BenYachov said...

>Actually, it was about the fuzziness of the concept of species in general, and why there was no such thing as an abrupt species transition, aka a "first elephant".

In another rare moment of possible agreement with One Brow(you can never know with him) I would say Darwinism does seem to historically have a philosophically ambiguous definition of what constitutes a biological species.

B. Prokop said...

"[T]he argument is based on the teaching authority of the Church".

Complete nonsense. Classic case of putting the cart before the horse. The Teaching Authority of the Church did not spring forth fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. It was (and is) the product of long and hotly debated discussions precisely like the one we are having here. The Teaching Authority of the Church is not the source of argument and debate, but rather its end product. The source can equally be bones or DNA evidence as it can be St. Thomas Aquinas or even St. Paul.

B. Prokop said...

I failed to add the final paragraph to my last posting, which should be:

But don't ever try to argue based on the Teaching Authority of the Church. That would be like answering the question "Why does two plus two equal four?" by saying "Because the math book says so!" No, the argument must come from the steps one must take to arrive at four. You cannot argue from the conclusion!

BenYachov said...

@Bob

>Complete nonsense. Classic case of putting the cart before the horse.

I haven't made the argument yet. Plus making up arbitrary rules & imposing them on me to control the outcome isn’t convincing.

Dude relax!:-)

I am arguing for a real historical person who was Adam. His nature & circumstances are the produce of development. But I am arguing bare bones for him. Nicaea has a less developed Christology then Chalcedon but the bare bones belief Christ was Human & Divine has always been taught. So has a real Adam.

>The Teaching Authority of the Church did not spring forth fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. It was (and is) the product of long and hotly debated discussions precisely like the one we are having here. The Teaching Authority of the Church is not the source of argument and debate, but rather its end product. The source can equally be bones or DNA evidence as it can be St. Thomas Aquinas or even St. Paul.

I don’t disagree with any of this but it really has nothing to do with my argument which I have not made yet.

>But don't ever try to argue based on the Teaching Authority of the Church.

We are both Catholics Bob so it is what we have in common. That makes no sense? If you disagree with my interpretation by all means say so or if you think I mishandled or misreprented the teachings.

But at this point I think you should stand by & wait and see.

I am not here to force you to believe what I believe. I am not your bishop or your Priest.

I once had an erroneous view of the Incarnation till my girlfriend set me straight showing me it was the teaching of the Church Authority. I married her in the end and I am the better for it.

So chill bro we are both Sons of the One True Church here.

B. Prokop said...

Take your time in developing your argument, Ben. I'm off to a relative's 90th birthday party, and won't be back to my computer until Monday! I'll be living in analog heaven for three whole days!

Crude said...

Actually, it was about the fuzziness of the concept of species in general, and why there was no such thing as an abrupt species transition, aka a "first elephant".

Go read it again and what is meant by "the first frenchman". What they are discussing pivots on this point: If being part of a species is being defined in a reproductive way (you can only interbreed with other members of your own species), and if species have origins (one appears where it previously did not exist), then who does the first member of a species mate with? Do multiple members of species luckily pop into being? Trying to define species is an ongoing problem and discussion - not just for theologians.

The reply is given in that link that this isn't how species have to form - cue talks of evolving populations, or speciation through separation, or... etc. But it's a moot point here, since who here is claiming that Adam and Eve weren't interfertile with anyone but themselves?

Arbitrary divisions with little objective, underlying basis are a favorite human trick.

As is suggesting that real divisions are merely arbitrary.

Believe what you want, but I'm pointing out what that talkorigins page is discussing - and it's simply irrelevant here.

Crude said...

Bob,

And I don't believe I misinterpreted Cardinal Ratzinger's words. His line of explanation in "In the Beginning" is clearly skewed toward a hyper non-literalist interpretation of the creation accounts. It would be difficult to tease any real support for a historical first couple out of that book.

It's difficult to tease much of anything concrete out of Ratzinger's words other than "Genesis is valid, but a hyper-literal reading is not necessary". But neither Ben nor I are giving a hyper-literal reading. We're giving a broadly theistic evolutionary reading. This is pretty damn far away from a YEC view, and is very much in line with Catholic thought (Humani Generis? I think goes into the idea of Adam and Eve having biological precursors.)

Regardless, you say this isn't a major point for you. Great. I do humbly suggest - and I ain't humble often! - you reconsider any possible animosity you hold towards YECs. I held some since I was a teenager. I have come to believe it is wrong-headed and damaging. I won't even offer arguments as to why you should reconsider your views about them (the people, not the views necessarily), if you do feel that way. It's just a request that you reflect on it further.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
Go read it again ...

Why did you tell me to go read it again and then reword my points?

As is suggesting that real divisions are merely arbitrary.

Differences between different points of a continuum is not the same as having divisions.

Believe what you want, but I'm pointing out what that talkorigins page is discussing - and it's simply irrelevant here.

I was simply pointing out to Dr. Reppert that the notion of a "first elephant", and the like, was biologically vacuous. It was in response to one part of his original post, therefore relevant.

Papalinton said...

Ben Yachov
"I am not here to force you to believe what I believe. I am not your bishop or your Priest. "

So, priests and bishops are entitled to force you into believing. Is that a function of their job description, they are mandated to force someone to 'toe the party line'?

Crude said...

Why did you tell me to go read it again and then reword my points?

Because they're not your points. It doesn't seem like you had one now, other than having made an honest mistake.

Differences between different points of a continuum is not the same as having divisions.

Yes, it is. 50% capability is not 60% or 40% capability. So even if someone granted you that capabilities in question come in degrees, you still remain with difference enough to make discernments. That's obvious.

I was simply pointing out to Dr. Reppert that the notion of a "first elephant", and the like, was biologically vacuous. It was in response to one part of his original post, therefore relevant.

No, it's not "biologically vacuous" even in that case. You really don't seem to understand the talkorigins post itself, or what it was addressing: It was a response to a particular perceived problem / criticism with broad evolutionary theory which asks, if you define a new species according to exclusive interfertility, how do you ever get a new population? Since the reasoning goes the very first one would be interfertile with no one. The response is that change can take place in individuals while they remain interfertile with the larger group. Put another way, "Just because you're the first frenchman doesn't mean you can't get a spanish girl pregnant."

Really, this is a large, looming question even without the theological questions in play. Flatly saying "there was no first elephant", and thinking the TO entry shows as much, is demonstrating something here. Just not what you think.

BenYachov said...

>So, priests and bishops are entitled to force you into believing. Is that a function of their job description, they are mandated to force someone to 'toe the party line'?

The Bishop has the power to excommunicate you for publicly professing willful heresy or teaching false doctrine.

Why should that scandalize you Paps?

Can you tell me with a straight face I could become a full member of an Atheist Organization while believing and promoting belief in God?

Can I formerly belong to President Obama's re-election campaign while put up posters calling for people to elect Mit Romney or Herman Cain President?

Would not the officials of these organizations kick me out for such activities or professing such belief?

Would they not in fact have the right to do so & would it not be reasonable for them to do so?

Are they forcing me to believe to believe anything? I think not.

You amaze me sometimes Paps.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
Because they're not your points. It doesn't seem like you had one now, other than having made an honest mistake.

Based on what you said below, the eror in understanding is yours. You repeated back the verbiage, but missed the concept.

Yes, it is. 50% capability is not 60% or 40% capability.

That's a difference. A division requires that there be a significant separation.

So even if someone granted you that capabilities in question come in degrees, you still remain with difference enough to make discernments. That's obvious.

Discernments are also not divisions.

Put another way, "Just because you're the first frenchman doesn't mean you can't get a spanish girl pregnant."

This is the first-Frenchman question again: who did the first Frenchman speak French with? The canonical and correct response is that individuals don't evolve, populations evolve. You don't get an individual first Frenchman, you get a whole generation, all speaking French.

Rather, as genetic differences accumulate, organisms will be less likely to be able to successfully breed -- this means there will be a greater number of unsuccessful fertilisation attempts, a greater number of unsuccessful pregnancies, a greater number of offspring that don't survive to maturity. Eventually the differences will become so great that reproduction won't be possible at all, but deciding where exactly that point lies will be an arbitrary decision as the species boundary is a fuzzy one to begin with.

Again, note the reference to the determination of when there is a new species as "arbitrary".

Flatly saying "there was no first elephant", and thinking the TO entry shows as much, is demonstrating something here. Just not what you think.

Actually, it shows the pointlessness of thinking there must be some unique form common to all elephants, and that can can point to a child and say "this is an elephant" while of its parents say "those are not elephants". The similarities between parent and child overwhelm the differences. To try to divide them in that fashionn is arbitrary, and not meaningful biologically.

Papalinton said...

One Brow
"Rather, as genetic differences accumulate, organisms will be less likely to be able to successfully breed -- this means there will be a greater number of unsuccessful fertilisation .................'

The explanatory power of your example simply grinds the 'popped into existence by god' hypothesis of christian theism to a fine powder. Christian theism is all predicated on arbitrariness: Poof! god creates the universe in six days and has a one-day weekend. Why an omni-everything would need a a day off seems too good to be true. And if it seems so, then in all likelihood it is too good to be true. Poof! Adam and Eve, the first homo sapiens, exactly as we look now, white, blond hair, blue eyes, speak english. As George Bush is said to have uttered, "If English is good enough for the word of god in the bible, then it's good enough for me." [Probably a myth]. Poof! A catastrophic flood, wipes out literally everything. Poof! the Red Sea parts. Poof! parthenogenesis of a virgin. Poof! he just stepped out and walked on water without sinking. The whole bible is glutted with Poof! moments. It is anathema to imagine theists capable of comprehending the vast eons of time of the cosmos and the gradual transmission of life from inorganic compounds mixing together under the action of rain, wind, storms, flooding, hot searing summers, cold winters to form simple self-replicating cells and gradually to the panoply of living beings both flora and fauna, including modern humans, that we observe today. They are not trained to do so. It is not a part of their religious ethos. After all, even today many if not most Americans think the world is only 6,000 years old created by god[s].

BenYachov said...

@Bob

My Talking points.

Adam is unanimously regarded if not presupposed as a real historical individual who was the Progenitor of the Human race across the board in Catholic Tradition.

True Humans are defined by the Church as creatures with immortal souls created directly by God made in the divine image.

Tradition does use the person of Adam as a symbol to represent the whole human race but even as the Virgin Mary might symbolize both the Church and Old Testament Israel in Scripture and the Fathers it doesn't logically follow the virgin Mary is not a real historical person the same applies to Adam.

Christ calls himself the new Adam & yet is he not a real historical figure?

Granted some stories in the Old Testament might be taken as extended parables or theological novels(Judith, Tobit, additions to Daniel etc) but even still it is not taught by the Church they are
void of any or all real historical content. Still the actions of the figures in these stories have no universal consequence to mankind like the Fall of Adam and are not attached to the formation of a major dogma like original sin.

Jesus and Paul seem to speak of Adam as a real person along with the whole church that came after.

There is no scientific or theological reason to believe either Jonah or Noah where not real persons.

A soul is the produce of an act of direct creation from God and not from the evolutionary process. The later theory(Souls evolve) has always been universally condemned by the Church as heresy.

Thus God would have had to have created a first man at some point by giving pre-existing living matter a soul. He could have given out 2 to 10 thousand of them at the beginning but Occam's razor
might ask why does he need to when only one or two will do? If God created 10000 humans at the beginning isn't it a bit of a logistical nightmare for Satan to arrange for the simultaneous fall of 10000 people at once? What of any children they had bellow the age of reason how would they inherit original sin by propagation after the fall when their kids having already received original innocence from their
parents before?

The extraordinary magesterium doesn't teach the existence of a literal Adam according to OTT but the doctrine of Original Sin seems to presuppose it. The Ordinary and Universal Magesteriums seem
to teach Adam was a real individual from whom we all descend.

New Atheists will always show contempt to persons who believe in God who have way more liberal views than either of us.

We are Catholics as the future Pope Benedict said in his book we are not slaves to an overly literal interpretation of the Scripture but that doesn't mean Scripture doesn't contain real history told according to the style and conventions of the ancients.

BenYachov said...

Church teaching citations.

Vatican II

LUMEN GENTIUM 25

In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supremem magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

Mysterium Ecclesiae-Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith

But by divine institution it is the exclusive task of these pastors alone, the successors of Peter and the other Apostles, to teach the faithful authentically, that is with the authority of Christ shared in different ways; so that the faithful, who may not simply listen to them as experts in Catholic doctrine, must accept their teaching given in Christ's name, with an assent that is
proportionate to the authority that they possess and that they mean to exercise.


Catechism of the Catholic Church

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from
the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235


382 "Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity" (GS 14 § 1). The doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal soul is created immediately by God.


404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man."293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and
justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed"—a state and not an act.

BenYachov said...

Council of Trent Session 5

1 If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and
that he incurred, through the offense of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death,
captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the
worse; let him be anathema.

2 If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.let him be anathema.

3 If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, --is taken away either by the
powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and
redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be
anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. Whence that voice; Behold the lamb of God behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other;
As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ.

Some articles from a Catholic & Thomistic philosopher.

http://drbonnette.com/Evolution_vs_Genesis.html

http://drbonnette.com/Genisis_A_Fairy_Tale.html

Crude said...

Based on what you said below, the eror in understanding is yours. You repeated back the verbiage, but missed the concept.

OB, you misunderstood what you cited. It's as simple as that. Play this game if you want, but anyone can read the site, your claim, and see you misunderstood the article particularly, and the subject generally.

That's a difference. A division requires that there be a significant separation.

And a difference, even a difference of degree, can be a significant separation. Argue over whether the difference discerned is enough to constitute a division if you like - I really don't care what your call is on it. It's enough to point out your objection here doesn't do what you need it to.

If you want to say that any definition of an elephant or a cockroach or a man is arbitrary, go for it. Don't confuse your philosophical views for biological fact, such as facts are in science.

Again, note the reference to the determination of when there is a new species as "arbitrary".

Wonderful: Also note the context of the conversation, and the link I provided. The point of the exchange is to illustrate that evolution does not need to produce a new species by means of the birth of totally non-interfertile descendant(s). That the poster offhandedly called the distinction arbitrary does not show that there was no first elephant, or first cockroach, or otherwise - nor was that the point of their entry. They were addressing an objection to evolutionary explanations based on a particular concept of species, not discussing essentialism v non-essentialism, or whether or not there was a first elephant, or first cockroach, or... etc.

You know that doesn't settle the matter, you know there are views to the contrary even among biologists, and certainly among philosophers.

The similarities between parent and child overwhelm the differences. To try to divide them in that fashionn is arbitrary, and not meaningful biologically.

Heh. The similarities overwhelm the differences - if you assume that the differences that could obtain will never matter. And like it or not, it depends on the differences. Even putting aside the questions of the soul and humanness in the eyes of God, you're laboring under the delusion that all evolutionary change is gradual. it isn't necessarily the case even in relatively mundane situations. And the situation in question isn't mundane.

Really, read the link I gave you. It's informative, and you'll see quotes like: First, the species problem is not primarily an empirical one, but it is rather fraught with philosophical questions that require - but cannot be settled by - empirical evidence. Granted, that comes from that noted intelligent design supporter and quasi-creationist, Massimo Pigliucci. Still, worth considering. You may also want to consider Wilkins, in your own link, noting it's known speciation can take place rapidly in certain contexts. He even talks of new species appearing within two or a few generations. (You did notice that your link includes responses from two different people, yes?)

So yes, there was a first elephant, and a first cockroach, and even a first human - given particular philosophical views and commitments. Cross your arms, stamp your feet, say you reject those commitments and have your own. You're welcome to that. You're just outside biology as a science at that point.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
It can be significant, but is not necessarily significant, and in the case of evolution is not significant.

They were addressing an objection to evolutionary explanations based on a particular concept of species, not discussing essentialism v non-essentialism, or whether or not there was a first elephant, or first cockroach, or... etc.

Yet, that is the result, biologically. You can layer ten different philosophies on top of the biology, but none of that translates into a meaningful, biological notion of a first member of a species.
Because the distinction is not based in biology, it becomes arbitrary. People who disagree about the set of features, and the degree to which they must be persent, that constitue a form of "elephant" will disagree on what member of the historical populaiton will have been a first element, and there will be no biological basis on which to contrast those claims.

Heh. The similarities overwhelm the differences - if you assume that the differences that could obtain will never matter.

If the differences between parent and child were sufficient to matter, biologically, you would have a mutant that could not interbreed, not a first of a new species.

... you're laboring under the delusion that all evolutionary change is gradual.

You are certainly not knowledgeable enough about me to speak confidently about any delusions I may be under, and I see no reason to think you are knowledgeable enough regarding biology to separate delusions from actuality there.

Is the creation of a larger brood size, or a muscle contraction forming a wall, in 30 generations truly that rapid? Do you think the guppies/lizards qualify as new species? My answers would be no, and no. The muscled wall doesn't seem to be that much more a deviation from the norm than webbed feet on a human. Increased brrod sizes are even less of a change, and are very standard for heavy selective pressures.

Really, read the link I gave you.

It has not changed much over the years.

First, the species problem is not primarily an empirical one,

Biology is an empirical undertaking.

He even talks of new species appearing within two or a few generations. (You did notice that your link includes responses from two different people, yes?)

Yes. I've also read the speciation FAQ on talkorigins, and am well aware how rapidly speciation can occur, particularly among plants and one-celled organisms (who are the beings that can speciate in two or a few generations).

So yes, there was a first elephant, and a first cockroach, and even a first human - given particular philosophical views and commitments.

As I have consistently pointed out, the determination of such is arbitrary. Cross your arms, stamp your feet, and insist on those commitments and have your own. It has no more meaning biologically then me referring to my children as "new humans", a different species from the "old humans", of which I am one.

Crude said...

It can be significant, but

No. You, given your philosophical commitments and your imagined version of the relevant processes which does not need to obtain, call it not significant. But I've already said - I don't care about your personal judgment. I do care when you BS about science.

If you want to say that the question of there being a "first" of any species cannot be decided on a purely scientific basis, thanks - you've conceded my point. If you want to say "Well I think it's arbitrary", we're back to one little problem: I don't think much of your views on these matters.

If the differences between parent and child were sufficient to matter,

But A) That "a mutant who can not interbreed" is exactly one of (multiple) definitions of 'new species' that biologists, as well as the thinkers in your own cite, were giving, and B) What "matters biologically" with regards to consideration of species... is not a wholly biological question. See Pigliucci. See the entry as a whole.

You are certainly not knowledgeable enough about me to speak confidently about any delusions I may be under,

I'm very capable of reading your replies, seeing your reasoning, and seeing where it's going wrong. In fact, it's pretty easy.

My answers would be no, and no.

What's your opinion on the best foreign policy? So long as you're telling me your personal opinions that I couldn't care less about, and which aren't the subject I'm addressing, you may as well be thorough. ;)

Evolution need not be gradual, certainly not in principle. Darwin was wrong on this point. And the question of 'first's was not decided either by the link you gave, or your - let's have fun, and call it arbitrary - standards.

If you would have simply said "I don't think there was a first, because of my philosophies and feelings on evolution", we wouldn't be having this conversation. You made the mistake of suggesting your link was a refutation, when it wasn't even addressing the relevant question.

Biology is an empirical undertaking.

And yet, Pigluicci says what he does. Nor does he say empirical undertakings has nothing to do with it - in fact, he says the opposite in that quote. That a question involves empirical undertakings does not mean those undertakings are sufficient to decide the question.

Yes. I've also read the speciation FAQ on talkorigins, and am well aware

The source wasn't the speciation FAQ. It was your own link, which apparently you didn't even absorb. That rapidity of speciation is mentioned by Wilkins.

In principle, this isn't limited to plants or single-celled organisms - though for obvious reasons, we're more likely to observe such cases. (There's a reason Lenski isn't doing his experiment with mice.)

As I have consistently pointed out,

No, you haven't 'pointed out'. You've asserted, you've claimed, and you wrongly said that the TO link shows why. But it doesn't. The swifter biologists know it doesn't. I know that you call it arbitrary, just as you say realists are wrong. But alas, you're not the final word on these matters. Insofar as you don't seem to understand them very much, you're not much of a word.

Cross your arms, stamp your feet,

Poor lad. Can't even be original in his slights. But hey, if you're going to copy, copy from a guy who's good at it, eh? ;)

You blew it. You misunderstood your reference, and confused your personal philosophical views on these matters with some wholly biological, non-philosophical demonstration. It doesn't work. Pigliucci realizes it, philosophers realize it, and I think even you realize it. I don't care to go two weeks with you on this while you desperately try to fog your way out of the obvious. Learn where science ends and philosophy begins.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
No. You, given your philosophical commitments and your imagined version of the relevant processes which does not need to obtain, call it not significant.

My philosophical insights are irelevant. The differences from generation to generation are not significant in any measurable way in the lineage from proto-elephant to elephant.

If you want to say that the question of there being a "first" of any species cannot be decided on a purely scientific basis, thanks - you've conceded my point.

So, you wish to argue for a non-scientific, non-arbitrary basis for species? What would that be?

If you want to say "Well I think it's arbitrary", we're back to one little problem: I don't think much of your views on these matters.

Since it is not my view that makes the determination arbitrary, but the arbitrariness of the determination, again my views are irrelevant.

But A) That "a mutant who can not interbreed" is exactly one of (multiple) definitions of 'new species' that biologists, as well as the thinkers in your own cite, were giving,

When a mammal produces a mutant that can not interbreed, the mutant does not form a new species. It leaves no offspring.

See Pigliucci. See the entry as a whole.

Two populations of flies don't care if we identify them as the same species becasue they produce viable offspring 40% of the time, or if we say they are different species becasue they produce non-vialbe offspring 60% of the time. The scientists studying thow two populations also don't really care. No experiements on the flies would be run differently because they are categorized one way or the other. All the changes is how the populations are referred to in publications.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
I'm very capable of reading your replies, seeing your reasoning, and seeing where it's going wrong. In fact, it's pretty easy.

When you find something wrong, point it out. All this back-and-forth about what you think of my opinions is meaningless. If you see an error, point it out. For example, find a scientifically relevant use for saying "population X is in the same species as population Y" when you already have a good idea fo their evolutionary history, interfertiltiy rates, and so on.

So long as you're telling me your personal opinions ...

I offered reasoning for my opinions, based on evidence. You know, the type of reasoning that is scientifically relevant.

... 'first's was not decided either by the link you gave, or your - let's have fun, and call it arbitrary - standards.

If you can offer a non-arbitrary way to determine a 'first', then I will be wrong. I'm not holding my breath.

You made the mistake of suggesting your link was a refutation, when it wasn't even addressing the relevant question.

What do you think is the relevant question regarding the first of a species?

And yet, Pigluicci says what he does.

Exactly! It's not really an empirical question, even though any detailed answers would be grounded in empirical data. The determinations require arbitrary decisions.

In principle, this isn't limited to plants or single-celled organisms - though for obvious reasons, we're more likely to observe such cases. (There's a reason Lenski isn't doing his experiment with mice.)

Lenski's work required thousands of generations, IIRC. That's different from speciations in a generation or two (and the known mechanisms that can cause it).

I know that you call it arbitrary, just as you say realists are wrong.

I have never said the realists were wrong (at least, not insofar as they are realists). Realism is not the type of position that can be right or wrong. It's either a useful model or it is not.

Poor lad. Can't even be original in his slights.

I know the difference between a slight and mockery. In the unlikely event I ever care enough about you to slight you, it will be original.

But hey, if you're going to copy, copy from a guy who's good at it, eh? ;)

Are you that good at copying?

Learn where science ends and philosophy begins.

I obviously draw the line more narrowly on science than you.

B. Prokop said...

Well,

I'm back from my 3-day internet fast, and see that the discussion has gone on into uncharted territory. Here are my final comments on this thread:

1. I find myself at somewhat of a disadvantage in this debate, since I hold no strong feelings on the issue at hand. I suspect that Adam is a mythical, a-historical figure, but won't fall on my sword on that point. I can be persuaded otherwise (though no one has yet come close to doing so).

2. I strongly believe that there is no theological necessity for Adam's literal existence. Nothing in my faith would change, no matter what the True Facts turned out to be. If I meet up with Adam in Heaven, I will gladly and humbly apologize for not believing in him.

3. I am not liable to be swayed one way or the other by an Argument from Authority. I read Ben's quotes from Church Councils, and saw gigantic holes through which one could drive a non-literalist interpretation.

4. I see no need for an "all or nothing" approach. There is no Slippery Slope here. Disbelief in a historical Adam does not in any way lead to a disbelief in a historical Mary, Jesus, or any other Biblical figure. It just doesn't follow. The Domino Effect is a myth.

5. Jesus frequently refers to fictional characters in his words. I am not one of those who insist that every last person and event in every single parable is a true account of a literal, historical event. The simplest and almost certainly correct interpretation of these stories is that He just "made them up" in order to make a point. In the same way, He referred to fictional characters such as Job or Noah (or Adam) to make His point. No need to believe they actually existed (but likewise no harm in believing they did).

Talk amongst yourselves, but I am done here. I end up where I started. This whole topic is ridiculous and embarrassing. It served no purpose other than to give internet atheists the (false) impression that we Christians are fools who will gladly argue over angels dancing on a pinhead.

Anonymous said...

You're fighting a losing battle, Papalinton - evolution is entirely compatible with theism generally and Christianity specifically, even on these fundamental question. I'd say you should retreat to some other area of science to make your stand but... there really aren't any available.

--------------------------------

I wish you would explain that to the millions of evangelicals who still believe that the theory of evolution is the work of the devil and continue to push for the teaching of intelligent design in high school science classes. :-)

Evolution as currently understood is not incompatible with liberal Christianity. Certainly is incompatible with the more fundamentalistic varieties - not only of Christianity but also the other Abrahamic religions.

vocab malone/jm rieser said...

Why does this matter? I think this quote by Michael Reeves in 'Should Christians Embrace Evolution?' can serve us:

“…the identity of Adam and his role as the physical progenitor of the human race are not … free or detachable doctrines. The historical reality of Adam is an essential means of preserving a Christian account of sin and evil, a Christian understanding of God, and the rationale for the incarnation, cross and resurrection. His physical fatherhood of all humankind preserves God’s justice in condemning us in Adam (and, by inference, God’s justice in redeeming us in Christ) as well as safeguarding the logic of the incarnation. Neither belief can be reinterpreted without the most severe consequences.”

(p. 56)

Anonymous said...

"I wish you would explain that to the millions of evangelicals who still believe that the theory of evolution is the work of the devil and continue to push for the teaching of intelligent design in high school science classes."

Intelligent design is not strictly opposed to evolution. Michael Behe and others accept common descent.

"Evolution as currently understood is not incompatible with liberal Christianity."

Evolution is not incompatible with Christianity. Even traditionalists and orthodox Catholics and Christians can accept it. And accept a real Adam and Eve and a historical fall.

Anonymous said...

Intelligent design is not strictly opposed to evolution. Michael Behe and others accept common descent.

Evolution is not incompatible with Christianity. Even traditionalists and orthodox Catholics and Christians can accept it. And accept a real Adam and Eve and a historical fall.

--------------------------

I never made the claims you are disagreeing with. Clearly you need to re-read my post more carefully.

BenYachov said...

The "either you believe in a literal Adam or Theistic Evolution" is pure nonsense.

Bob with all due respect to him has refused to interact with my arguments other than to dismiss them.

If he can't answer them that's ok I will not browbeat him.

Guys like Paps are scared orthodox Theistic Evolutionists are going to take their toys.

But equally ID fanatics should be scared too since if one accepts both Evolution & Adam then to paraphrase Stephen Hawkings "What place then for ID?".

BenYachov said...

>I can be persuaded otherwise (though no one has yet come close to doing so).

What would constitute evidence for you?

>I read Ben's quotes from Church Councils, and saw gigantic holes through which one could drive a non-literalist interpretation.

Accept I advocate a realist interpretation in harmony with the CCC & the Church.

I wanted to think otherwise but the above statement indicates you have an either or mentality here Bob either the Bible is literalistically interpreted & historical or it's allegorical and symbolic non-historical myth.

No middle ground.

That is itself a fundamentalist view IMHO.

Cheers to you Bob.

God Bless.

B. Prokop said...

"What would constitute evidence for [me]?" Nothing purely theological would. Nor would quotes from church councils or the catechism. It would have to be solid scientifically verifiable DNA evidence, bones in the ground, or some other archeological proof.

Why? I repeat that Orthodoxy has no dog in this fight. The doctrines of the Fall and Redemption due not stand or fall on the historicity of Adam. I firmly believe 100% in the Fall - I see quantifiable, visible, solid evidence for its reality every day all around me (and within me). Same thing for the Redemption. To quote General Stonewall Jackson, "He who does not see the Hand of God in this is blind, Sir, blind!"

"Either the Bible is literalistically interpreted & historical or it's allegorical and symbolic non-historical myth."

Sorry if I gave that impression. That was not at all my intent. I see things as more of a continuum. (In my humble opinion)there are passages in the OT that are clearly pure allegory (much of the first 11 chapters of Genesis, Job, Jonah), some that is most probably "pious fiction" (Tobit, Judith, Esther, Daniel, possibly parts of the Historical Books), and some that is "Court History" (a literary type that allows for invented speeches and other authorial license, to which most of the OT historical narratives may be categorized), much that is a-historical poetry, and finally, books that are pure historical narrative, to be taken literally as True Fact (most of the NT and parts of the OT Historical Books). (And this is not an exhaustive list of the relevant literary types.) And even these categories are not "hard and fast". Many, many passages can be interpreted on multiple levels. And nothing prevents one from giving an allegorical spin to a clearly historical event (e.g., the Multiplication of the loaves and fishes), while maintaining its historicity.

So really, there is a huge middle ground. Hope that clears things up.

BenYachov said...

>It would have to be solid scientifically verifiable DNA evidence, bones in the ground, or some other archeological proof.

That is an irrational standard. How by studying DNA can I conclude an ancient hominid had a soul or not?

>Nothing purely theological would.

Which is irrational since it is a purely theological and or philosophical question.

This I fear is your problem.

B. Prokop said...

Not at all. The existence or otherwise of a First Couple ancestry for the Human Race ought to be a purely scientific and historical question, on the order of "How many crewmen sailed with Columbus?" DNA studies can theoretically tell us (ultimately) whether such a thing was/is possible in the first place, and archeological research could conceivably prove a negative hypothesis (such as simultaneous multiple places of origin for Homo sapiens.) I can easily visualize a case where biologists might prove (at least mathematically) that human origins require there be a First Couple (or equally, that it might demonstrate the reverse). But purely theological speculation on what is basically an historical and physical question is just inappropriate (at least, at this point). Once we know the answers to such questions, then would be the time to consider their theological ramifications - but not before.

To me this whole discussion is like speculating on what the consequences of meeting an alien intelligence would be. Idle fun, perhaps, but utterly meaningless until we actually know whether or not such beings exist at all. (I'm skeptical, by the way. I suspect we're alone.)

BenYachov said...

>The existence or otherwise of a First Couple ancestry for the Human Race ought to be a purely scientific and historical question.

But the Church defines humans metaphysically not scientifically or genetically?

My citations show that.

Let me put it in very simplistic terms. If God gave an immortal rational soul to a dog it would become by Aristotle's and Aquinas' definition a human. It's genetic particulars be damned.

Also if you payed attention to One Brow vs Crude on species & wither or not there can or cannot be a first elephant.

I can take One Brow and TALKORIGIN'S view that there is no definitive point when a species emerges and my view is uneffected.

You are making a Scientism mistake.

This is solely a philosophical and theological question unless you want to come up with a scientific model to show how we can know genetically wither or not any particular long dead creature had a hylomorphic soul or not.

Like I said in the past category mistake.

BenYachov said...

Bob it is a historical and physical question but not a scientific one.

Since the categories (i.e. creation of a soul)it deals with are clearly not scientific but philosophical and theological and it's not speculation.

The ordinary teaching of the Church up to this point proclaims this as truth to which we must give assent.

BenYachov said...

Bob it's like Atheist and clueless physicist taking Aquinas argument from motion as referring to physical movement from point A to B when in fact it's about the metaphysical description of potency being made actual (i.e. change).

Adam is a philosophical and Theological question not a scientific question.

B. Prokop said...

We'll have to agree to disagree. Like I said, I really don't care what the answer is - doesn't affect me or my faith one way or the other. I just don't like us making fools of ourselves in public.

BenYachov said...

Alrightie then Bob. We will just have to do that. Let the Church if it is God's Will decide between us maybe some day in the future.

Just so you know & for the record I don't think you are any less of a Catholic then Moi simply because you hold in my view a few erroneous opinions.;-)

Your a stand up guy & I thank Our Lord & Our Lady for you.

Cheers Brother.

>It served no purpose other than to give internet atheists the (false) impression that we Christians are fools who will gladly argue over angels dancing on a pinhead.

I would add this as a parting thought. Christians historically have always debated doctrine. If you read Cardinal Newman it is a necessary prerequisite to the Development of doctrine.

What if I ask, the Dominicans and Franciscans decided they didn't want to look foolish in front of the Calvinists when they debated the Immaculate Conception? Then Dun Scotus would never have been able to lay the groundwork for Pius IX to settle the issue.

I say that as a partisan of the theological school that was on the loosing end of that argument.

New Atheists wish to treat all theological discussion as the moral equivalent of debating Fairy Lore or advocating holocaust denial.

But in the end the New Atheism is intellectually inferior to the old guard Atheist who at least where somewhat philosophically competent and learned. The modern crop are no better than fundies without belief in gods. That is their pathetic destiny to worship their intellect yet never even bother to use it.

But it least I now have a way more positive view of Atheists who are not Gnu's.